LUCKY BASTARD is an unusual, refreshing, and disconcerting take on the overused found-footage film style. Instead of paranormal researchers trying to catch a poltergeist at work or amateur videographers attempting to artfully document their senior camping trip/kick-ass party, the footage in LUCKY BASTARD comes from the coverage-obsessed world of the adult entertainment industry. In this world, full-coverage is the rule (more coverage equals more money), which at least realistically sets up why these events happen to be so immaculately documented and in such detail. While some instances of documentation might stretch the bounds of believability or are perhaps not strictly necessary for storytelling purposes, the premise is fundamentally sounder than some of its stylistic cousins.
Mike (Don McManus) is a producer of pornographic films for a website called Lucky Bastard, a site that invites its audience to have sex with its porn stars. Mike convinces single mother and porn actress Ashley Saint (Betsy Rue) to be the prize in this contest for Lucky Bastard winner Dave G. (Jay Paulson). As the cast and crew of Lucky Bastard work with Dave G. to stage the episodes that culminate in his big sex scene, Dave becomes increasingly distraught by the artificiality and casual intimacy of the industry that constantly undermines his special moment with Ashley. As the cameras roll, one thing after another goes wrong, climaxing in a shocking (though perhaps not entirely unexpected) turn of events.
The acting in LUCKY BASTARD ranges from excellent to sufficient, but Chris Wylde takes home the prize for best performance as ironic cameraman Kris. He roams through the film with a humor and intelligence about his job that puts the jaded attitudes of the rest of his co-workers to shame. Not only is he funny, he as heart and insight. In a scene where he points out to Mike an historical inaccuracy in Dave G.’s story, Mike condescendingly notes how smart he is and how “it’s like you went to college or something”. Kris rightfully gets offended and takes Mike to task like no one else can, pointing out the character flaw that constantly makes him push people too far, and leaving Mike at a loss for words for the first time in the film.
While much of the film is pretty racy as far as sexual content goes, that is to be expected from the subject matter, and in fact serves a greater purpose than pure, gratuitous entertainment. The sex in LUCKY BASTARD is not sexy – it is showy, obviously artificial, business-like, noisy – but not sexy. Betsy Rue’s Ashley pouts and bats her eyes at the camera, wiggles around seductively, but it’s so disingenuous that it’s more laughable than anything else. She is sexy, however, when Ashley jokingly sexy-talks about doing her taxes, doing laundry, and being a single mother – it’s her genuine moments, when she talks about what matters to her and how she feels about her job, that make her sexy. And while it’s partly a commentary on the inherent artificiality of the adult entertainment industry, it’s also just a line that emphasizes the distinction between the job and personal life. And while everyone seems to have a business-like, resigned pragmatism about the industry – both Ashley and aspiring porn-star Casey (Catherine Annette) are discontent and have larger aspirations beyond porn – what feels underrepresented are those sex-workers who take real pride and joy in the work that they do. Just ask the ladies over at the fascinating sex-worker blog Tits and Sass (www.titsandsass.com) how they feel about their representation in popular media compared with how they feel about their jobs. Overall, LUCKY BASTARD is a refreshing and complex look at the controversial world of adult film and a unique use of an overused film style.
LUCKY BASTARD Review
FILM SYNOPSIS - Lucky Bastard is a "found footage" thriller about a porn website run by Mike (Don McManus) that invites fans to have sex with porn stars. Jay Paulson plays Dave, an eager young fan given a chance to have sex with the fabulous Ashley Saint (Betsy Rue). But everyone gets more than they bargained for in the seemingly mild-mannered Dave... with gruesome results. The film is captured by the "Lucky Bastard" porn cameras for a fresh take on the "found footage" genre.